Glossary of Legislative Terms

WORDDEFINITION

actAn act is a bill passed by both houses and signed by the Governor.
adjournTo adjourn is to end a day’s session or committee meeting.
agendaAn agenda is a list created to inform the public of the items to be considered in a meeting.
amendmentAn amendment, if approved, changes a bill.
AssemblyThe Assembly is one of the two chambers of our Legislature whose members are elected every two years.
bicameralA bicameral legislature is made of two houses. In Nevada, we have the Assembly and the Senate.
biennialBiennial means something occurs every two years. The Nevada Legislature meets in odd-numbered years.
billA bill is a draft of a proposed law or a change in a current law.
bodyAll Assembly members or Senate members meeting as a group are called the body.
budgetThe budget is the estimate of the money collected and the plan for money to be spent to carry out programs and support the three branches of state government.
caucusA caucus is an organized group of people with a common purpose or function.
chamberThe chamber is also known as “the floor.” It is the room in which the whole Assembly or the whole Senate meets.
Chief ClerkThe Chief Clerk is elected by the members of the Assembly to serve as chief administrative officer and parliamentarian (this means the expert on the rules) of the Assembly.
committeeAssembly members or Senators are assigned to committees to hear bills and testimony and to make recommendations for action to the whole body of members.
concurTo concur is to agree to an amendment which has been adopted by the other house.
constituentA constituent is any of the voters who elect a person to represent them.
ConstitutionThe written document that includes the basic beliefs and laws of our state that establishes the powers and duties of the government and guarantees certain rights to the people in it.
Daily FileThe Daily File is the list of bills awaiting action by the Assembly or the Senate.
first readingWhen a bill is introduced, a number is assigned to it, its title is read before the full house, and the bill is referred to a committee.
Floor LeaderA member chosen by the majority or minority party as their spokesperson is the Floor Leader. The Speaker is the spokesperson for the Assembly majority.
galleryThe chamber includes a large seating area for visitors and it is referred to as the gallery.
hearingA hearing is a meeting of a legislative committee during which witnesses provide testimony on bills that are being reviewed by the committee. Anyone may attend and/or testify at a hearing.
interimThe period from the adjournment sine die of one regular legislative session to the convening of the next regular session is the interim.
journalThe journal is the official record of the proceedings in the houses. A journal is produced after each floor session and combined into one complete journal for each legislative session.
Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB)The LCB is a nonpartisan agency that serves both the Assembly and Senate and all legislators. The LCB is made of several departments including fiscal, legal, research and administration.
legislatorA legislator is an elected member of a legislature and is called an Assemblyman, Assemblywoman, or Senator.
lobbyistA person who represents different groups that tries to get legislators to vote on issues in a way that will favor its special wants or needs.
majority partyThe political party having the most members elected in the Assembly or the Senate is the majority party.
minority partyThe political party not having the majority of members elected in the Assembly or the Senate is the minority party.
nonpartisanNot tied to any political party.
second readingAfter being reported out of committee, a bill is read by title a second time before the full house. Amendments are adopted or rejected at this time.
Sergeant at ArmsThe person in each house who is responsible for security, making sure everyone follows the rules in the chamber, and ensuring the safety of members and visiting dignitaries.
sessionThe period of 120 days during which the legislature meets is referred to as a regular session.
sine dieSine die is a Latin phrase meaning “without day.” Adjournment sine die marks the end of a legislative session, since it does not set a time for reconvening.
SpeakerThe Speaker is a member of the Assembly who has been elected to be in charge by other members of the Assembly. He or she is called Mr. Speaker or Madam Speaker.
special sessionA meeting of the Legislature can be called by the governor or by a petition (formal request) of legislators. If the special session is requested by legislators, two-thirds of the legislators in each house need to sign the petition. The business of the session is restricted to specific subjects for which the session was called.
testifyTo make a statement based on personal knowledge or belief.
testimonyA statement made to provide facts or firsthand evidence.
third readingThird reading is the point when a bill is debated by the full house and a final vote may be taken.
titleThe title is the official summary of the contents of a bill or resolution.
vetoThe governor can refuse to approve a bill which can prevent it from becoming law. The veto may be overturned with a two-thirds majority vote in both houses.